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Friday, September 20, 2013

1st Ever Flight Of The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle [PSLV] [This Day, That Year]

September 20, 1993, saw India's PSLV streak through the skies for the very first time. Will commemorate its Silver Jubilee mission, this year, with a trip to Mars.


The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle [PSLV] been the Indian Space Research Organisation's [ISRO] most successfully launcher, so far, demonstrating its reliability & versatility each time, be it with a trip to the Moon, or improvisation to launch a communication satellite, a launch normally outsourced. Having repeatedly demonstrated its abilities, foreign launch customers too have been bestowing faith on this ISRO work-horse to place their satellites into orbit, a job it has been doing with aplomb. Its 25th commercial mission [PSLV-C25], scheduled for October-November 2013, will have India embarking on its maiden mission to Mars.

Although the 1st mission, a developmental one, fell short of meeting all objectives, lessons learnt from it has ensured a highly successful programme subsequently. The issue of VSSC's journal, Countdown, following the September launch, in October, carried a detailed article about the maiden launch. Besides information about each stage, also explained is the actual stacking process followed to integrate the 4-stage rocket & the payload on top of it.

Originally scheduled for launch on September 19, countdown was stopped after an anomaly was detected in one of the readings, that was then found out to be a fault in the monitoring sensors, & not the system itself. Interestingly, the PSLV's strap-on rocket boosters don't ignite from the onset of the flight, & neither do they all ignite at once. It lifts-off purely on the thrust developed by the first stage [PS-1], then 1.3 seconds later 2 of strap-on light up, and then the remaining 4 ignite 30.3 seconds after lift-off [T+30.3]. Article filled with data & information - highly recommended for those interested.

Exploded view of the PSLV



Also read: Successful Flight Test Validation Of The Very First Indian Strap-On Booster Motors